Monday, September 26, 2016

My Happy Hysterectomy

When you have gynecological problems severe enough that you start googling things like "hysterectomy," you quickly find that the internet is a wast expanse of horror stories.  There is an endless supply of women who feel like they have ruined their lives by removing their misbehaving uterus and/or ovaries.  You find yourself reading one tale of woe after another.  You find people who make surgical menopause sound like a curse from the devil himself: warping your personality, ruining your sleep, and killing your sex life.  You'll find whole groups devoted to keeping women "whole."

Well, I'm here to tell you that I am perfectly fine with my total hysterectomy and oophorectomy.  Thrilled, even.  Delighted.  Relieved.  Happy.  You get the picture.

I had the trifecta: uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and recurring complex ovarian cysts.  The fibroids made me severely anemic.  The cysts would twist and bleed, sending me to the emergency room in agony in the middle of the night.  All of them conspired together to make my periods a nightmare of pain punctuated by rivers of blood to rival the book of Exodus.

Now, I could have been more conservative in treating these problems once they were finally diagnosed.  I could have had the cysts surgically removed for biopsy, saved some ovary, kept the uterus.  I could have treated with hormones and prayed that would be enough, and if I had been interested in preserving fertility, that would have been the way to go.  But our family is complete, and I was weary of managing problems that could possibly be eliminated with surgery.  I didn't want this all to continue hanging over my head, leading to future suffering and future surgery down the line.

So, at 36 years old, I decided to get rid of the whole shebang.

And I am totally fine.  I'm better than fine.  I feel better than I've felt in ages.  I certainly feel more "whole" than I did with garbage organs junking up my abdominal cavity with blood and inflammation all the damn time.  And I've been lucky that my estrogen patch works like gangbusters: no mood swings, nor hot flashes, nor insomnia.  I haven't gained so much as a pound.  I don't feel like less of a woman.  None of the dire things I read about have some to pass.  I am perfectly happy with my decision.

Would your surgery go as well as mine did?  Who knows?  Only you can decide how to treat your own problems, in light of your own particular situation and desires.  Surgery always has risks and always causes pain, even if you're lucky enough to go the minimally invasive route, as I was.  There is a sense of loss in forever closing the door to childbirth.  That grief is real, and it's something you need to have a plan to process, preferably before you go through with the surgery.  If you lose your ovaries, it might take you time to balance out your hormone replacement with the help of a good doctor.  You may not luck out on the first patch you try like I did.  But please don't let the internet terrify you out of considering surgery if you and your doctor think it will help you.

There are good stories, too, among the Hystersisters.  It's just that most happy people don't bother talking about it on the internet.

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